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Dysfunctional AI, Bots, and Automatons


When dealing with tech companies and other entities, it is becoming increasingly common to run into unintelligent AI roadblocks online. The machine wants you to “validate” or “verify” yourself. You’re supposed to prove who you are…to a machine. A machine! Now, I’m all for technology, but things are getting out of hand. For instance, I don’t see the logic in the extra step of receiving a text code on my phone for “security” before I can complete a simple login.

I manage different platforms for different clients and what used to be a smooth, efficient process has become a frustrating effort. Say I’m setting up an email campaign for a client and they’ve given me their login credentials. I attempt to start the job at 5:00 am. But, the screen message says, “We’ve sent a text code to ***1234. Please enter that code below.” Now, my client is not sitting by the phone at 5:00 am waiting to receive a text, so I am not able to move forward. By the time they receive the code and send it to me, it’s “expired.”

These days, I have to coordinate with clients the approximate time I’ll be working on their project with when they’ll be available to receive and send the code. On one particular platform, even after I entered the code, the screen says, “We don’t recognize this device. Unable to complete this process.” It’s an unnecessary inconvenience that benefits no one.

While some people say this makes them feel “safe,” I don’t agree. It’s basically taking away the power of the individual and giving badly programmed AI the authority to determine what that individual can and cannot do; even assessing whether said individual is “valid.”

Let Me Text You a Code

The code thing has expanded to phone calls. A few months ago, I had an issue with a new Verizon internet account. I had waited on hold for an ungodly amount of time and the first thing the rep wants to do is text me a code to “verify” my identity. What?!?! I said, “I’m on the phone talking to you. You can see the number I’m calling from is the number associated with my account. So, what’s to verify?”

The young automaton replied, “I can’t discuss anything with you until you give me the code that was sent to you.” At that point, I knew this call would be pointless. I gave her the code and began a very long and unproductive conversation. I was transferred several times and each individual told a different lie when I challenged their canned response.  I cancelled my service after one day. I don’t need to be talked down to and insulted. There are other options.

Last weekend, my phone innards died and I had to make a trip to the phone store for a new Android. The automaton girl there, three months on the job, said she had to text me a code to “verify” before she could transfer my contacts to the new phone. I said, my phone is dead. I’m sure your system shows it’s dead. I can’t receive a text. She stared at her computer and said, “There’s nothing I can do.”

A few years ago, you could buy a new phone and simply put your old SIM card, contacts and all, in the new phone. No more! Now, they force you to buy a new SIM card and everything is loaded via your connected gmail account. If someone didn’t have a gmail account, what would they do?


Another pet peeve is chat bots. You see, my work is very technical. If I get to the point where I’m reaching out to support, I’ve already tried everything I can think of to resolve an issue. I don’t need to answer silly questions from a bot program. I want to speak to a thinking human who can offer a possible solution. But, even after I pass the gatekeeper bot, the human that steps in doesn’t know anything! It seems these people are trained to only do the most basic tasks and any truly technical question has to be referred to another “team member.” Where is this team? Are they even in the same building or spread around the country/world?

Suspicious Activity?

I had an Instacart account for a couple of years. Then I moved to a different city. I placed two delivery orders which went fine. On the third order I placed, I received an email a minute later saying the order was cancelled. I called the customer service number to see why. A girl with a very heavy accent (Australian? Jamaican? Who knows!?) told me that my account was suspended. I could barely understand her words, but she said something about the fraud department and suspicious activity.

She asked if I had changed my card number or address. I said, “Yes, I changed my delivery address because I moved. And, I’ve already received two previous orders at this address.” I emphasized, “There is no suspicious activity.” Like a robot, she kept repeating, “We have determined that there is suspicious activity.” “We” being the dysfunctional AI.    This was beyond stupid.  Stop!

She said if I want the suspension removed, I would have to upload an image of my card to “verify” my identity. I said I’m not doing that. We went back and forth with me understanding about half of what she was saying. I finally asked her, “Are you in the United States?” She said no. I asked if any Instacart phone reps were in the United States and she said no.

So, they expect me to upload my debit card image, front and back, to some unknown database somewhere where people barely speak English and have no logical thinking skills? Ha! I told her to cancel my Instacart account and send me an email stating that I would not be charged any more monthly fees. I stayed on the phone with her until I received the email. Then, I thanked her and hung up.

Death to the Machine

Dysfunctional AI abounds and nonsensical behavior is pervasive on the interwebs and phone. Clown world, for sure.

These companies know that they are only creating frustrated, angry customers. That seems to be the goal…disempowerment. It’s like they’re trying to break the will of people and force them to give in to the illusion that the machine has authority. Not in my world. Never.

People have to push back and stop accepting ridiculous restrictions and control mechanisms. Together, we can break dysfunctional AI and silence the automaton phone reps, lol. Power to the people!

Thanks for reading. 🙂


Photo by DeepMind on Unsplash